Tag: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Slow-Burning Meditation on Alienation

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon — the core duo of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention locally and nationally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. Naturally, the result is material that is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” the album’s second single was a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. “Faces,” the self-titled album’s third and latest single continues in the same lush vein of its predecessor — but it’s a shimmering and slow burning and meditative song that evokes a sense of alienation and disconnectedness that feels and sounds familiar.  

“Faces is the oldest song on the record and worked for us as a kind of pivot from the sound of the EP to the sound of the record,” the band explains in press notes. “We brought in a sampled synth and had more intricate parts and arrangements. Lyrically the song is about floating through a crowded city feeling disassociated from the people you see around and how specifically we begin to internalize that alienation. A day living in a city puts us in proximity to an insane number of people. And that number increases ten fold when you add what we see on social media. Yet so many of our friends are struggling with loneliness. It’s hard to build and sustain a close community. And in many ways, how we are forced to live in this city specifically makes connecting to folks difficult. The generally cramped apartments we share make it hard to have people over, and the struggle to pay rent make it hard to have income to go out. And this is beyond the general exhaustion so much of us feel from hustling.”

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Shimmering and Lush, Synth-Driven Single

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon, currently comprised of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) have received attention locally and elsewhere for a sound that features elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. Interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. And naturally, as a result, the material is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent over everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” No Swoon’s second and latest single off their forthcoming full-length debut is a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. 

“You know when you’re talking to someone about how fucked the world is (in many ways) right now and they say ‘but it’s better than it used to be, we’ve come so far!’  I hate that, ‘we’ve come so far,’ it’s such a cop-out,” the band says in a statement. “Sure we’ve made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren’t. It doesn’t mean that racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse (the list goes on), doesn’t exist today or that climate change isn’t a real threat to the world. And if that all still exists, we still have work to do. And that’s what this song, ‘Forward’ stems from. That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. ‘Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over?’ Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form.” 

Throughout this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve written about and championed a number of acts from across Northern Africa — in particular, Mali. During that same period of time,  Mali has been split apart by a bloody civil war between several different factions. In 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azaward (MNLA) took control of Northern Mail; but shortly after, they were pushed out of the region by Ansar Dine, a jihadist group, which quickly imposed sharia law: cigarettes, alcohol and music were banned across the region. And as a result a large number of the country’s acclaimed musicians including Songhoy Blues’ founding trio Garba Toure, Aliou Toure and Oumar Toure (no relation, but all Songhoy people) were forced to relocate south to Bamako, the country’s capital.

As the members of Songhoy Blues have said, the band was formed “. . . to recreate that lost ambience of the North, and make all the refugees relive those Northern songs.”  The band recruited Nathanael Dembélé to compete their lineup, and began playing shows across the Bamako club circuit, attracting both Songhoy and Tuareg fans.  Interestingly, by September 2013, Africa Express, a collective of American and European musicians and producers led by Damon Albarn traveled to Bamako to collaborate with local musicians. The members of Songhoy Blues successfully auditioned and were introduced to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Nick Zinner, who produced and recorded “Soubour” (which translates into English as “patience”), which appeared on that year’s African Express compilation Maison Des Jeunes. 

Following the success of “Soubour,” the band returned to the studio with Zinner and co-producer Marc-Antoine Moreau to record their 2015 full-length debut Music in Exile, which was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise from The Guardian, NME and others, and as a result the band received nominations for “Best New Act” at the Q Awards and “Independent Breakthrough Act” at the AIM Awards.  The quartet has opened for Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas and Damon Albarn, and have played sets at Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo Festival, Latitude Festival, Roskilde Festival, Green Man Festival, Byron Bay Bluesfest, WOMADelaide and The Great Escape Festival.

Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Resistance was released to critical praise, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the best albums of that year. Since then, the act has been busy touring, including a stop at Union Pool‘s Summer Thunder last year — and the writing and recording of their forthcoming EP Meet Me in the City, which is slated for an October 18, 2019 release.

The effort finds the acclaimed Malian act collaborating with Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, Junior Kimbrough and Femi Kuti. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney and Songhoy Blues co-written “Time To Go Home” may be the most electronic-leaning they’ve released to date, it still retains some dexterous and trippy guitar work and the hypnotic grooves of the Desert Blues. And interestingly enough, it finds the band ambitiously desiring to pass the messages at the heart of their material to a much larger, international audience. (There are two different version of the track. One mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Blake Mills and one mixed by David Ferguson.)

Songhoy Blues says, “We’re really happy to introduce this new EP and our English-language debut on the song ‘Time To Go Home.’ Please enjoy it and get ready for a heavy new album coming up very soon.”

Matt Sweeney adds, “I think it’s safe to say that the brave poets of Songhoy Blues have a different idea what a ‘bad day’ is than pretty much all other rock bands. Their music and singing are powerful beyond words. Making a new song with them was a humbling honor and an unforgettable joy.”

On PBS’ American Masters, Will Oldham spoke of working with Songhoy Blyes, saying, “They are a Malian band that’s really trying to make sense of what they’ve been witnessing, what they’ve been experiencing, and create or transmit a message to people about what they’re seeing and how they’re trying to understand it and make change…And to think, well I want them to know that I’m trying to listen and trying to understand, and if I can give voice to some of what they’re experiencing, that they might be emboldened by this musical connection.”

Songhoy Blues will be embarking on a month long Stateside tour that includes two NYC area dates — September 22, 2019 at The Great Green Wall at The United Nations and October 24, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

09.21 – Franklin, TN – Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival 2019
09.22 – New York, NY – United Nations | Great Green Wall
09.23 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09.24 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
09.26 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
09.27 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
09.28 – Austin, TX – Antone’s
10.01 – El Prado, NM – Taos Mesa Brewing
10.04 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
10.05 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
10.06 – Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre
10.09 – Eugene, OR – WOW Hall
10.10 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10.11 – Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
10.12 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
10.15 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10.17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.19 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
10.22 – Toronto, ON, Canada – Great Hall
10.24 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
10.25 – Easthampton, MA – New City Brewery
10.26 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
10.27 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

New Video: Up-and-Coming Garage Punk Act The Bobby Lees Release a Feral and Energetic Visual for “GutterMilk”

The Booby Lees are an up-and-coming Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act, comprised of Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Kendall Wind (Bass), Nick Casa (Lead Guitar), and Macky Bowman (Drums). And over the past year, the up-and-coming, garage punk quartet have honed their live show opening for The Black Lips, Murphy’s Law and Boss Hog. 

The band’s latest single, the Jon Spencer-produced “GuttterMilk” is 94 seconds of feral garage punk, centered around a rumbling and propulsive baseline, thundering drumming, buzzing and slashing guitars and Quartin’s howled vocals that nods at Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jon Spencer’s work with The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. 

Directed by John Swab, the recently released video employs a simple concept — the band performing the song with in an abandoned building with raw and hungry energy. 

Live Footage: the bird and the bee Cover Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with Dave Grohl on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia,Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney, the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee can trace their origins to when they met  while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. As the story goes back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show, during the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim(drums), who has worked with the David Bowie and Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen‘s album’s second single “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” is a slinky New Wave-like take on the original, centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, atmospheric electronics, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to New Order and It’s Blitz!-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the track is imbued with a feverish quality.

While much of Van Halen’s material, whether it was David Lee Roth-era or Sammy Hagar-era is seemingly familiar to the point of well-worn, the first two singles off Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen finds the duo crafting a loving and thoughtful take on beloved material. And they manage to do so in a way that retains familiar elements but within a playful, post-modern, decidedly feminist fashion. 

The duo were recently on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where they performed their sultry rendition of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with a special guest — Dave Grohl, who played drums.